Devotional Study: David Niednagel, Pastor and Teacher, Evansville, IN. David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning devotional study (study, observe, apply, pray)
Have mercy on me
Psalm 51:1-12 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. ESV
“Transgression, iniquity, sin, evil” – thanks to Nathan’s courage, David admitted and confessed his sin. Once he quit trying to hide, he found freedom, but not until. Ps 32 says his bones hurt, and he was miserable till he openly admitted all his sin. In fact, he admitted his sinful ways started long before Bathsheba, that he had a sin nature from birth. And at that point, he begged for mercy. He had no expectation or guarantee of forgiveness. He had seen God’s judgment on Saul for “lesser” sins, and he was truly broken and fearful.
As NT believers we believe and teach much about grace cleansing us from all sin, and that it true. But we also have a strong tendency to minimize the seriousness of sin as we claim grace – perhaps like a child comes to expect leniency from a parent if they just say “I’m sorry”. Grace is beautiful if we first are devastated by our sin. Grace is cheapened if we feel entitled to it.
David knew he could not forgive himself. Though he surely knew his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba was terrible, he was most aware of his sin against Yahweh, who had blessed and helped him so many times. He begged for cleansing “with hyssop” – the plant used to sprinkle the blood of sacrifices. He knew there was no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, but he did not stop with the appeal of forgiveness for these two specific sins. He asked for God’s work in changing his heart. His problem was indwelling sin, not just the acts of adultery and murder.
When he begged God to “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me” he was referring to what had happened to Saul, who was possessed by an evil spirit and repeatedly tried to kill David. David knew the seriousness of his sin and that God was under no obligation to forgive him. He begged God to Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Even though he was king, and still had beautiful Bathsheba, he had no joy in life. It was gone!
Lord, we make excuses for our sin and try so hard not to admit our guilt – guilt not just for the specific sin, but our sin nature and our thoughts and actions our whole life long. And we seldom have a Nathan come with a story that helps us see our sin the way you do, so we lose our sensitivity to You and our joy. The pleasure we sought when we sinned becomes our prison. Thank You for mercy and grace! But help me honestly face my sinful thoughts as well as actions, so that I truly come to You with my whole problem, not just a specific sin. May my desire be “a clean heart, and a right spirit,” and for You to uphold me. Amen.